Russian Working Class Youth Media Representation: The Discourse Analysis Experience


The objective of this research is to investigate the recent discursive turn in working class representation in the Russian media. The means of creation and translation of normative class patterns, stereotypes and political agency within Russian media have been studied using the theoretical framework of critical discourse analysis. The empirical basis of the research is the textual transcripts of the key communicative events marking the working class as a political subject. The qualitative analysis allowed us to distinguish the rhetorical techniques and semiotic resources of working-class representation in the political field: thematic repertoire, format, practices which interlocutors use in addressing each other, language style and naming. It has been established that the forgotten concept of a “working class” was actualized and entrenched in the official political discourse in 2011. It was borrowed from left-wing political forces and re-assembled as one of the means of ruling class positioning in the 2011–2012 electoral cycle. Industrial working class representatives were included in public discourse as a part of the political staging, the consequences of which led to minor social changes. The populist discourse of working-class politicians as a “voice of common people” was constructed to oppose it to the protesting “creative class” threatening the main political force. The short-term political goal of power agents was to represent working-class people and youth especially as a political subject loyal to the existing regime, embedded into the current political system and ready to defend it if necessary. The nostalgic rhetorical technics were primarily used to re-launch “working class project”.

Keywords: working class, working-class youth, discourse analysis, populism, political discourse

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